Waechtersbach, Germany, AP—Hundreds of mourners paid their last respects Wednesday to a young woman hailed as a hero, who suffered fatal injuries after intervening to help two teenage girls being harassed by a group of men.
Tuğçe Albayrak had been in a coma since mid-November following an early-morning altercation in Offenbach, near Frankfurt. She died on Friday, her 23rd birthday, after her family gave permission to switch off her life support.
Albayrak’s funeral was held outside a mosque in Waechtersbach in central Germany. Her coffin, covered by a green cloth with Arabic script in gold, was placed on a stone table, flanked by German and Turkish flags. Turkey’s ambassador to Germany and the Hesse state governor also attended the ceremony, conducted in both Turkish and German.
The bravery of the Turkish–German woman triggered an outpouring of public sympathy in Germany. The country’s president was among many who have lauded her as a role model.
Hundreds of thousands have signed an online petition urging that Albayrak be posthumously awarded a national medal of honor.
Albayrak and two friends came to the help of two teenage girls who were being harassed by several young men inside a bathroom in the McDonald’s at about 4 am on November 15. Later outside, one of the men allegedly hit Albayrak in the head, and she fell to the ground.
Preliminary autopsy results were inconclusive about whether the fatal blow was struck by the man or came from hitting the ground.
Albayrak, a student at Justus-Liebig University in Giessen, hoped to become a high school German and ethics teacher.
Her aunt, Reyhan Kes, told The Associated Press “she was a strong-minded girl. I believe she would have been a perfect teacher.”
Albayrak was to be buried in the cemetery of her hometown in Bad Soden-Salmuenster, 5 miles (8 kilometers) from Waechtersbach.